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Written by Team Wizikey

April 11, 2022

Data doesn’t lie: Chhaya Dabas of Zomato

In this episode of ‘Data Champions in Communications,’ we have Chhaya Dabas from Zomato to tell us more about her journey.

Data doesn’t lie: Chhaya Dabas of Zomato

Communication professionals dream of creating campaigns that are recognized across platforms and can go viral in minutes. Following the data trail via media intelligence, brands are able to achieve that. In this episode of ‘Data Champions in Communications,’ we have Chhaya Dabas, who is heading the corporate communications department at Zomato to tell us more about her journey.

1. How did you end up in communications?

My journey in the field of communications started in my childhood. I was born in a family of writers, storytellers, and people who always put communication first. My grandfather is a Ph.D. in linguistics. He taught Hindi to students for all of his professional life as a professor at Delhi University. My father made a career out of being a communication person and became highly successful in that. Both my mother and my grandmother were teachers at different points in time. My maternal grandfather came from Multan, now in Pakistan, and of course, brought with him a plethora of stories. So, I think it was a household of stories that I was raised up in and was always taught to express myself openly and communicate my ideas freely. 

I was in school when I wrote my first poem when I was ten-years-old and since then I never looked back. In fact, I always chose writing and speaking my heart out as a medium to connect with people, share ideas, and learn more about other people and the world.

In college, I studied political science in Delhi. In addition, I joined the Theater Society in the first year, which really opened me up and gave me the kind of exposure and confidence that probably I hadn’t been exposed to. During my second year, I started ‘Bathe,’ which was a community of writing and of writers— to express, connect, and share stories, poetry, and ideas. 

The community eventually grew into something much bigger than what I had envisaged. It became a startup, it became a business, and it eventually led to a lot of other ideas and collaborations with a variety of brands and companies and names such as Hindustan Times, Uziva, Scalar, InterviewBit, so on and so forth. Eventually, I decided to step away as an active employee of the company that I had found to explore more opportunities in the field of communications, which led me to where I am today. I head corporate communications at Zomato and I work in the interplay of internet start-up technology and help communicate Zomato to the world and its dream come true, also something that I thrive at. 

2. What is your favorite part of being in communications?

My favorite part of being in communications is the fact that no day is the same. It often happens that I go with a specific agenda in mind and it gets completely changed. That’s both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, but in the most positive and exciting way. Sometimes, you’re handling a communication crisis, or sometimes you’re brainstorming with the founders or you’re collaborating with the team to create something really interesting.

Communications is a very umbrella term. You have internal and external communication, social media, and PR. Everything falls on my plate some way or the other and I get roped into a lot of different things. The beauty of communication is that it allows me to help people communicate what they’re doing to the world or internally. That way, I am part of every team and also unique in my own way. That’s something I love about communications.

3. How do you see communications evolve?

I think communication and PR are ever-evolving. They are very much a supplier to the demand. You see how people’s consumption patterns are changing consistently and regularly. Today, the way we consume media has completely changed—the way we consume news. Sometimes long-form takes a backseat, short-form content takes the front seat—-social media where people go for all forms of content. 

The long-form is making a comeback, but I think it’s a deeper and a very broader conversation in terms of how people and calls are changing. I think no day is the same. Today whatever we discussed might not even hold any relevance in the coming few days or maybe months or weeks. But, the most important thing about PR and comms is that you have to stay updated. You have to know the pulse of any conversation that revolves around your brand or you or any entity that’s relevant to your brand. I think your network is your most important work and currency as a PR and comms specialist.

In fact, what’s next to come is maybe more formats. We explored the Clubhouse for a bit and of course other talk boxes. We are still looking at social media evolving every day. There are podcasts that are booming all over us. I think formats are something definitely we need to watch out for. You never know how people consume content or information of any form. The way the internet, especially the startup space, is booming it is possible that the walls between informal and semi-casual may get really reduced. I think people do want to see the personal mode. People do want to know the person behind the brand or the visionary behind the brand and that’s something I think where we need to really start making PR and communication or comms, in general, a little bit more human by putting a face behind it. 

4. Data is the new oil. Do you think communications have to be data-driven?

I think data is the backbone of any operation. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at logistics or consumer behavior or demand patterns—it could be anything. Data is industry agnostic. It doesn’t lie when collected correctly and transparently. Data actually cuts through the chase and gives you the facts through numbers and numbers don’t lie. So, definitely, comms and PR is not an industry or a sector or department that can actually stay behind. It has to be data-driven, especially if you want to get the right story out there in real-time and to the right audience. 

5. What is the most important data point?

The most important data point or data metric for me would be actually understanding how and what people are consuming on a daily basis and whether there is an active consumption or a passive one. What I mean by active is— are they actively engaging with the content, absorbing it, understanding it, and disseminating it, or passively deciding it like we receive and consume fake news or just scroll through social media. I really would like to know how active consumption patterns are shaping in India.

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